Revolutionary Measures

Why the internet won’t kill traditional TV

We’ve all heard about the death of linear, traditional TV. At one end pay streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime are grabbing viewers, while at the other, more and more people (particularly the young) are getting their entertainment for free from YouTube.

night television tv video

Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

But is it really happening? And if it does, will it mean the inevitable decline of traditional, broadcast television and organisations such as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5? I’d say not, based on three recent data points.

1          People are still watching live TV
Things are certainly changing, but the latest Ofcom figures show that of the 5 hours and 1 minute that the average person spends viewing audiovisual content every day, 71% of this is spent watching broadcast shows. Over half is live TV, with the remainder being recordings of programmes and broadcaster catch-up services, such as BBC iPlayer. Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon have overtaken traditional pay-TV (Sky, Virgin Media) in terms of numbers of subscribers, but bear in mind that the cost of these services is much less. Many people have multiple subscriptions, particularly given the rise of exclusive content, such as The Crown on Netflix and The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime.

So, while broadcasters may be finding harder to fund new content, they still have a loyal viewership – even fickle 16-34 year olds spend 46% of their time viewing broadcast content. And I’d expect those figures to be affected by teenage viewing habits – previous Ofcom research found that 66% of teenagers use YouTube to watch TV programmes and films, against 38% of all adults.

2          Terrestrial TV is talked about
The rise of the internet and digitalisation has given us unparalleled choice, resulting in the fragmentation of audiences. The days of watching a programme on one of four or five channels (and I remember when there were three) because ‘there was nothing else on’ have disappeared a long time ago. While this means that people can seek out and watch content that they are interested in, it has also reduced the power of TV to bring people together as a community – you can’t go into work or school and expect that those you talk to will have watched the same programme as you.

However, I think that again this has been overplayed – at the moment all the conversations and buzz (online and offline) are around terrestrial TV programmes, from The Bodyguard and Vanity Fair, to Strictly and the Great British Bake Off. There is definitely less in the way of shared experiences, but they are still there and are still bringing people together, particularly when they use the likes of social media to involve audiences and make them feel part of a community.

3          YouTube is not yet the mainstream
Like a lot of old(er) people I rely on my kids to tell me what is happening on YouTube. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have heard of the KSI vs Logan Paul fight that happened last month in Manchester. It was billed as the event that would demonstrate the sheer scale and reach of the site, as two of the most popular YouTubers in the world punched each other for five rounds. A lot of the stats from the fight are impressive – it generated 5 million pay-per-view buys on YouTube (including my children), bringing in an estimate revenue of £37.5 million. That makes it the fifth largest pay-per-view event in boxing history.

However, this needs to be put into context. KSI has 19 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, and Logan Paul has over 23 million. Before the fight Business Insider predicted there would be 100 million viewers. Even with allowances made for those that watched illegally, it was clearly a long way short of that. This backs up for me why a lot of teens watch YouTube – it is free, they can watch it on their phones away from their parents and it doesn’t take too long to stream each programme. Instead, the fight was the exact opposite – costing money, best watched on a TV and taking the entire evening. Essentially it shows that YouTube and broadcast TV are different and appeal to different needs.

I appreciate that the internet has transformed the TV market and that the cosy days of a limited number of broadcasters delivering programmes to grateful viewers is long gone. Action does need to be taken to ensure that we still have access to well-made, locally created content, and broadcasters need to adapt, but it is also important not to overstate the case for the internet – we’re not heading for a Netflix and YouTube only world anytime soon.

Advertisements

September 12, 2018 - Posted by | Creative, Marketing

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: